Wednesday, June 18, 2008

getting a little cocky

I hear a lot of people looking at the polls and crowing about how Obama is coasting to victory. Some people are writing that this will be a blowout because John McCain is the least attractive candidate in the history of elections, and that his campaign team is the least competent one in the history of, well, teams.

Since when did "winning by 4" translate into "coasting?"

Candidates hit their stride and staff get replaced. It happens all the time. McCain stumbled out of the gate but the race has only just begun.

In August 2000, Bush was up by over 15 points. He ended up losing the popular vote by half a point.


Rene said...

i COMPLETELY agree with this sentiment.

Obama has a much much higher ceiling than Hillary did, and he similarly has a much much lower floor.

His campaign is off and clicking, but what these impossible US voters will actually end up doing is still anyone's guess IMO.

Rene said...

also this

el ranchero said...

Oh dear God no! That, in my opinion, is the single worst scenario of all. Not only the wrong guy becoming president (and coming in under a cloud), but the complete failure of the process and mass disillusionment of a generation of new voters. There would be rioting in the streets, and I'd probably be one of them.

Luckily, it's hard to see Siegel's scenario play out the more I think about it. For instance, Siegel's argument relies on two fallacies:
1. states vote in a vacuum, where trends in one state don't imply trends in neighboring states, and
2. Bush won all his states big

So for instance, imagine Siegel's scenario where McCain ekes out a close win in NC, where Bush won by 12. That makes it very unlikely, however, that he would still win neighboring and somewhat more liberal VA, where Bush only won by 8 (and where Obama currently leads and the most popular governor in a decade is running for the open Senate seat). Same thing in the midwest: if McCain can't notch a big, Bush era 21 point victory in Indiana, how would he still win Ohio, which split its '04 votes 51-49, or Iowa, where Kerry came within one point? Or, for that matter, Michigan, which Bush lost? And explain to me again how Obama wins New York and Massachusetts bigger than any Democrat in a decade and yet loses neighboring Kerry state New Hampshire?

If McCain loses that many votes in the south and midwest, he probably loses some across the board, which would almost certainly move New Mexico, another 1 point Bush win, into the Obama camp.

The only way to justify this line of thinking is to argue that McCain loses a lot of base support, but more than makes up for it with independents. That would work, except that independents in a given state tend to lean in whichever direction the majority of the state leans, thus red state indies are more Republicanesque and blue state indies more Democratty. Thus if McCain loses 10 points in IN or NC, that loss probably came from Republicans and indies both, which makes it doubly unlikely that he would then carry the more Democrat-like OH or VA indies by wide enough margins to hold them.

el ranchero said...

In fact, if you take Siegel's nightmare scenario of Obama outperforming Kerry nationwide by 4%+ and getting the Kerry states CO, NM, NV, and VA with McCain getting MI and NH, and then you flip ever so close Iowa, which would pretty much have to happen under these circumstances, Obama wins 270-268.

My take: if Obama wins Virginia, Colorado, Missouri, Florida or Nevada, he wins the election, because he has to get significantly more support on a national level than Kerry did to get those states. If he scores Nevada, for instance, there's no way he doesn't also take NM and CO; if McCain can't hold FL he won't hold VA; Obama can't take MO without also getting IA and holding MI and probably winning OH.